U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) – The purpose of the Airmen Powered by Innovation program, launched in April, is to make every dollar count and allow Airmen to share innovative ideas to improve the Air Force.
One human resources assistant here did just that, saving the Academy time and $33,000 annually.
In May, Luana Kennedy, who has worked here for 11 years, submitted a suggestion to adjust the pay grade and qualifications for food service workers as part of the Academy’s summer hire program. The changes not only allow more students to apply for the position, but decrease the manpower and money used during the process.
“Her idea saved the Academy in labor expenses by reducing the grade of our summer hire food workers,” said Dale Hogue, the Academy manpower, organization and resources chief. “It also lowered the experience needed, expanding the applicant pool for potential hires by 150 percent and reducing Air Force Personnel Center processing time by 50 percent. Ms. Kennedy is a dedicated civilian employee who looked for ways to continually improve her processes while increasing customer service, in spite of a 30 percent manpower reduction in the civilian personnel office here.”
The summer hire program was originally under the Student Training Employment program. Civilian personnel employees would filter through resumes, set up interviews and coordinate job offers. In 2013, AFPC took over these tasks and converted the employment program’s employees to the Pathways program, requiring them to submit applications through USAJobs.
“The new process dramatically cut our candidate pool, resulting in only 18 qualified applicants for the 23 available positions in 2013,” Kennedy said. “I expressed my concern to AFPC that, for the first time, we would not be able to fill all food service worker positions under the summer hire program, (which are) mission critical to the Academy’s annual cadet summer operations.”
The summer workers provide extra support in Mitchell Hall during in-processing and Basic Cadet Training. Kennedy said most employees are local high school and college students.
“The WG-03 position required applicants to have at least six months of food service experience,” she said. “That eliminated a lot of students. By reclassifying the job to a WG-01 position, the candidate pool grew from 18 to 53.”
Through the help of CPO management, the manpower and personnel office here and AFPC staff, Kennedy’s suggestions were implemented and the API approved her submission.
“Just this summer alone, reclassifying the position from a WG-03 to a WG-01 saved the Academy over $30,000,” she said. “It was needed and is a good improvement for everyone. I’d been thinking about it for a while, how to make the process more seamless.”
The API program is extremely important as it provides Airmen, civilians and cadets an avenue to identify ways to save time and resources, Hogue said.
“Our resources are extremely limited in this fiscal environment, yet our mission at the Academy continues to be as important, dynamic and demanding as ever,” he said. “We hope Ms. Kennedy’s example inspires more good ideas to be submitted to help the Academy find better ways of executing our mission.”
The API program allows Airmen to submit a specific and clearly stated idea to improve Air Force processes, situations or methods.